The CKD 2021 Toyota Corolla Cross will do what the C-HR couldn’t

Hans · Dec 24, 2020 05:36 PM

If you’ve been following our page, you would know that UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT) has dropped the Toyota C-HR from its range of products. With SUVs being a fast growing segment, obviously UMW Toyota won’t leave the empty spot unfilled. We believe that the Toyota Corolla Cross will be taking the C-HR’s spot next year.

Prices have yet to be announced but we understand that UMWT’s manufacturing subsidiary Assembly Services Sdn. Bhd.’s (ASSB) second plant in Bukit Raja is being re-tooled to produce a new SUV model, which we believe will most likely refer to the Toyota Corolla Cross.

Recall that back in July, we published photos of a heavily disguised Toyota Corolla Cross driving on Malaysian roads, with UMWT’s number plate holders intact too.

Local assembly (CKD) will certainly bring prices down so we expect the 2021 Toyota Corolla Cross to be priced significantly lower than the Thailand-made C-HR, which was last sold at RM 144,336 during the SST exemption/discount period. With SST, it was priced at RM 150,000.

We expect the Malaysian specs CKD 2021 Toyota Corolla Cross to be priced within the RM120k - 130k range, similar to the 2.0-litre all-wheel drive Subaru XV, which is also locally-assembled.

Both the Corolla Cross and C-HR share the same engine and transmission – a 1.8-litre naturally aspirated 2ZR-FBE Dual VV-i engine (similar to Corolla Altis’ 2ZR-FE, B designation refers to E20 gasohol compatibility, crucial for Thailand), paired to a CVT-type automatic transmission driving the front wheels.

In Thailand, the Corolla Cross (and C-HR) are also available as hybrid, sharing the same 1.8-litre THS II drivetrain as the Prius. UMWT have previously hinted that it is working on a locally-assembled hybrid, so a hybrid variant could also be offered. Of course, don’t expect it to be cheap. Probably around RM 140k?

Hybrid variants will wear the blue badge

Both the Corolla Cross and C-HR are C-segment SUVs, riding on the same TNGA-C platform that also underpins the Corolla Altis, but with a small difference.

C-HR's cabin is decent enough, but still not the most practical

To maximize interior space (and also to keep cost low), the Corolla Cross swaps the C-HR’s double wishbone rear suspension for a simpler, more compact torsion beam setup.

C-HR's double wishbone setup strikes a very good balance between sharp handling and comfortable ride, Corolla Cross will use simpler torsion beam

Mechanically, the Corolla Cross is not as sophisticated as the C-HR but it’s debatable if consumers cared enough about the benefits of the double wishbone setup, because the C-HR didn’t sell that well anyway, not even in Thailand.

Corolla Cross' cabin has more storage bins

With a more space efficient torsion beam setup, the Corolla Cross can do what the C-HR can’t, which is to provide a decent enough cabin space for it to be practical enough as a family SUV.

While the C-HR was a sharp handler and rode very comfortably, interior space was lacking. Its form over function design also meant that those beautifully styled coupe-like roofline and rear doors resulted in a very claustrophobic experience for rear occupants.

C-HR's rear actually offers decent shoulder room but small windows make it feel tighter than it actually is

The Corolla Cross the total opposite of the C-HR. While the C-HR has a coupe-like form, the more traditionally-styled Corolla Cross is all about function over form. You can think of the Corolla Cross and C-HR as analogous to the Mercedes GLC and GLC Coupe, between the two, obviously the former appeals to a wider crowd.

Since the full suite Toyota Safety Sense is already available on the Corolla Altis, we expect the forthcoming Corolla Cross to be just as well equipped.

Apart from its price, the only other question that we are curious find out is whether will the Corolla Cross be just as comfortable as the C-HR, which still ranks among the best handling yet comfortable car from a mainstream brand, and it didn’t even need complex adaptive suspension to achieve that right balance.

In our books, the C-HR is still among the better products introduced by Toyota, price aside (because it’s imported, there’s not much that UMWT can do about taxes). Used ones are a bargain.

Expect queues to form for the Corolla Cross

As we bid goodbye to the C-HR, we eagerly await the welcoming of the 2021 Toyota Corolla, which is reckoned will be launched within the first half of 2021.

There will be a waiting list for this one, so do speak to your local Toyota dealer to keep you updated.